Film photography is a medium that allows all levels of photography to bring moments to life in ways that digital photography can’t. Whenever I mention film photography to someone unfamiliar with cameras, I usually get the response “oh, you mean those pictures from disposables?” Which makes me raise an eyebrow and remember that disposable cameras are very prevalent in today’s society. People use disposables in hopes to catch that “candid” moment and make it seem as if it came out of a 90s scrapbook. Maybe you’ve used one for an event, maybe you bought countless over the summer, or maybe you don’t use disposables at all. It’s important to know that disposables aren’t your only option for film photography. In fact, you might want to consider a film camera over a disposable. This is a guide to help you learn the basics of the advantages and disadvantages of both disposable cameras and film cameras.
Disposable cameras are pretty basic when it comes to function. You wind back the roller until you can’t anymore and snap your shot! For one time use it’s a good bang for your buck, averaging to $15. You also have to factor in the development of the photos, which is approximately $20. Fujifilm’s One Time Use 35mm Camera with Flash is among one of the most popular disposables. It consists of a high-quality flash and 27 exposures, while priced at $14.96 at your local Walmart. Disposables can come in waterproof forms, such as Fujifilm’s Quicksnap 800 Waterproof 35mm. It has 27 exposures, priced at $18. If you’re buying these for a specific event, a trip, or a night out and don’t plan on using it afterwards, a disposable is your best bet. However, if you continue to rack up the disposables because you use them constantly, then I recommend investing in a film camera. A film camera has many advantages over a disposable and the price can be worth it, if you have a passion for photography. For one, you have creative control over the size of the photo. 35mm is one of the most popular formats since the film is easy to lug around and takes the form of a standard photo. 120 is a medium format that allows for detailed and enlarged photos. Now here comes the downside to film cameras, the cost. Point and shoot cameras have a wide cost range from $15-$300, while 35mm SLR cameras (single lens reflex) can range from $200-$4,000. You can switch out the lens on a SLR camera, unlike a point and shoot. Medium format cameras’ base price approximates to $1,000. On top of that, you also have to factor in the cost of film roll. A roll for 35mm format costs about $2-$15, and on average has 26 exposures. Film cameras can be found at pawn shops, Amazon, and eBay, as it is difficult to find new ones. Keep in mind used cameras will be cheaper, and many aren’t manufactured anymore and will not be sold brand new. My final tip is to do your research before purchasing a film camera! Check out reviews on YouTube and articles to find the best film camera for you.
All in all, the final question is whether you should invest in a film camera or not. If you rather have an easy functioning camera for rare occasions, I would stick to disposables! It’ll save you time and money. If you want to explore different means of photography and you’re ready to spend the extra cash, film photography will become your new obsession. Film photography is an expensive hobby but if you’re committed to it, I personally think it’s a solid investment in yourself.